Amit Shah to enter Rajya Sabha. Is he the next Home Minister of India?
With BJP President Amit Shah all set to make his debut in Parliament as a Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat, speculations are rife that he may join Narendra Modi’s Cabinet.
Party insiders say Shah will initially steward the BJP ship in the Rajya Sabha where the party has had a tough time.
A major Cabinet reshuffle is said to be on the cards as there are several vacancies with M Venkaiah Naidu all set to become the Vice-President, Manohar Parrikar moving to Goa as the chief minister and the demise of environment minister Anil Madhav Dave.
According to sources, the rejig is likely to take place after the monsoon Session of Parliament.
There couldn’t be a better time for Shah to marshal his troops in the Upper House. Naidu, who was BJP’s main floor manager in the House, will now be the chairperson of the Rajya Sabha, where the government remains in a minority.
On the other hand, the Opposition has lost one of its most prominent voices, with the CPI(M) deciding not to renominate Sitaram Yechury to the Rajya Sabha.
Going by the way BJP’s two-man show springs a surprise, it would be best not to hazard a guess on Shah joining the Cabinet. But the grapevine has it that he may replace Rajnath Singh as the Union Home Minister. The latter may be moved to Defence, currently being handled as an additional responsibility by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
Amid the military standoff with China and increasing ceasefire violations by Pakistan, the Modi government has been facing attacks for not having a full time defence minister ever since Manohar Parrikar moved back to Goa as Chief Minister.
“Now that he is finally entering Parliament, it is certain he will be part of the Modi Cabinet. But in what capacity, only time will tell,” said a party source.
Shah was the minister of state for home in Narendra Modi’s government in Gujarat. But he had to make an unceremonious exit in 2010 after being charged with murder, extortion and kidnapping in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case.
Shah becoming Home Minister will have significant implications in states like West Bengal, where the BJP is engaged in a confrontation with the ruling Trinamool Congress and Kerala, where it is at loggerheads with the CPI(M).
It is also said that putting Shah at the helm of the Home Minister may also enable to the government to act more decisively regarding the crisis in Kashmir.
A five time MLA from Gujarat, this will be Shah’s first stint in Parliament.
Cutting his teeth in politics as a student leader, Shah was elected as a MLA for the first time in 1995 from Sarkhej in Ahmedabad. He retained the seat in 1998, 2002 and 2007. He was elected to the Gujarat Assembly for the fifth time from the Naranpura constituency, also in Ahmedabad, in 2012.
Known for his organisational abilities and strategic planning, Shah became BJP general secretary in 2013 and was given charge of Uttar Pradesh. Soon after Modi came to power at the Centre, Shah was made the BJP chief in July 2014 replacing Rajnath who became the Home Minister.
It has been a fairy tale for Shah as he has scripted one electoral victory after another. The only blips were Delhi and Bihar where BJP lost at the hands of the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP and Nitish Kumar-led Grand Alliance respectively.
But now even Bihar has fallen in BJP’s kitty and Shah’s candidature was announced the same day Nitish quit the Grand Alliance.
Shah’s nomination also puts an end to the speculation that he may return to Gujarat as the BJP’s CM candidate in the polls due later this year.
The main question is who will replace Shah as BJP president if he joins the Cabinet as BJP has a ‘one person, one post’ rule.
While RSS may pitch for Nitin Gadkari, the Modi-Shah duo may be unwilling to let go of their stranglehold over the party.
Observers say that with Assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh due later this year, Shah will continue to call the shots by appointing a pliable president.